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Edition 124 – Drive to the Conditions

On Tuesday evening last week, I was heading home from the City after a late appointment. It was pouring with rain, something that we’ve not been that used to in Sydney recently. The journey was proving to be an interesting experience in my Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint which, to be honest, is a “twitchy” car to drive at the best of times.

Water was pooling on the road in certain locations in the City, through the Eastern Distributor and along Southern Cross Drive. It created the unusual feeling of a micro second of aquaplaning.

When I changed lanes, I could feel the Pirelli tyres skate across the lane markers, much like it is if you walk on a wet pedestrian crossing in running shoes.

I could feel that months of oil and dirt build up changed the whole complexion of the road surface and made the trip very tricky.

I made a call as the M5 became four lanes after King George’s Road. I headed for the far left lane and kept the speed at 80 km/h in what is a 100 km/h zone. Immediately, the car felt better to drive. It handled better and I felt more comfortable in the driver’s seat.

All around me, very few people made the same call. I saw people easily breaking the 100 km/h speed limit. I saw others chopping and changing lanes as they headed west, not changing their driving habits from a dry road in full sunlight. I saw others still hogging the right lane, oblivious to what was happening around them, and blocking the people behind them. All on a wet road, with wipers at full swing and their windows fogging up.

Very few people changed the way they drove to suit the conditions. Which is what I see in family businesses all the time.

You see, a lot of owners and managers of family businesses keep their foot to the floor and drive their businesses at the same pace, and with the same intent, as if they had all the time and resources they need at their finger tips. At the moment, this is what I’m observing:

  1. Staff – not enough of the right type (e.g their personality) or they’re not suitably qualified.
  2. Finance – not enough available cash to take advantage of impending opportunities, or deal with a short term cash crunch.
  3. Management – a serious level of under capacity meaning everything falls on the shoulders of the owners. This is only ever a short term fix.
  4. Physical capacity – operating inside premises that are too small and can’t cope with your current level of business.
  5. Analysis – business owners and managers not looking at their daily dashboards – then wondering why the monthly and quarterly numbers are falling short.
  6. Time – getting bogged down in the day-to-day rather than devoting some of each day to focussing on the strategic journey for the business.

In business, you can’t keep driving at 110 km/h when the road is wet and the car feels twitchy. You might get to where you’re heading, but you’ll be more stressed and, potentially, you could clout something on the journey there. There are times when every family business needs to stop and the owners need to take stock to ensure they have all the resources they need, not only to get them through the now, but make sure they can handle the future.

This Week’s Tip

“What are you trying to do inside your business at the moment that it cannot possibly cope with right now?”